Firefox 4 has been a long time in the making but tomorrow (March 22, 2011) it will finally bid farewell to the protracted development process once and for all. If for some odd reason some of you simply can’t bear the wait any longer, you can download the final version a day in advance. Download links across the jump.
Alex Faaborg set the record straight on his user experience blog for Mozilla about Firefox 4.0 coming standard with a ribbon interface. There were a slew blogs, tweets, and news articles saying that the latest Firefox would sport the Redmond style-feature. However, it seems the information may have been a bit misconstrued.
Faaborg clarified in his blog, that while they have been investigating the interface trends in popular software products, they have not chosen the “Ribbon” to be an ideal solution for a web browser. He goes on to point out that “a tab based and contextual UI designed for holding a massive number of commands for document creation (a Ribbon) doesn’t actually make any sense for a Web browser” and they have no intention of implementing one.
It would appear the proposed interface for Firefox 4.0 (see image) resembles the Chrome and latest IE front-ends: losing the menu bar, and integrating a minimal command UI.
What do you think? Would Firefox have been better with a pretty little “Ribbon?”
According to Mozilla's recently released roadmap, Firefox 4.0 will first show up in beta form around June of next year, with a final release planned for October or November. The usual round of speed and responsiveness tweaks will be part of the next-gen browser, in addition to a new extensibility platform Mozilla is calling 'JetPack.' But the biggest change might be the Chrome-like handling of tabs, where each tab functions as its own separate process.
Between now and then, Mozilla plans to release Firefox 3.6 before the end of 2009 (you can already snag the Alpha 1 build here), which will feature Windows 7 integration, lightweight themes, asynchronous location bar, improved scrolling model on Windows, startup optimizations, and more. Then in early 2010, Firefox 3.7 will bring out-of-process plugins to the table, as well as book synchronization, task oriented browsing, the ability to run websites as an application, and other improvements.